Thursday, October 31, 2013

Signs that the Redemption is near?

It’s the end of the month again. That means it’s time to take another look at Redemption.

For years, the American magazine, Sports Illustrated, has run a weekly mini-report entitled, “Signs of the Apocalypse” (or something like that). It contains a one-or-two sentence announcement that features some weekly occurrence in the Sports world. Typically, it focuses on someone doing something really stupid. It highlights how incredibly awful highly-paid sports figures can be. Such behaviour by those we honour, the piece suggests, is surely a sign that our world must soon end.

Mostly, these incidents entertain.

That magazine comes from America. We live in Israel, which follows a different religious and spiritual orientation. So if someone in America thinks about Christian-inspired world Destruction, perhaps we can think about something different--a Jewish-inspired New-world Redemption.

Consider now some recent examples from the news that, in some way—humorous and not so humorous—suggest that the world might be preparing for something New. If you don’t see how these headlines might pre-sage a Jewish Redemption, that’s okay. That just means that your ‘Redemption training’ isn’t up-to-date.

For October 2013:

- Nation is churning out new era of school lunch (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
-Does Satan worship lower a Las Vegas mansion's value? (Los Angeles Times)
- Pilot's miracle survival after his plane crashes upside down (London Evening Standard)
- Near-miss in skies over Scotland (The Independent—of London, England)
- Starbucks caught in China's crosshairs over posh prices (NBC Newsonline)
-Wainwright hopes to atone (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
-Arctic temperatures at 44,000-year high (NBC News)
-Texan Man Struck by Lightning Twice on the Same Day (ABC News)

If you were looking for miracles that could provoke you to think about Redemption, October was your month for hope. First, two 747 jumbo jets nearly collided over Scotland—but didn’t. Then, a small plane crashed in England—upside down. The pilot feels that his survival was a miracle.

Then in Texas, a poor soul was struck by lightning not once but twice—just moments apart. He survived with apparently little injury. His reaction? He’s going to become more religious.

If you missed these stories of miraculous survival, you’re probably busy. But ‘busy’ isn’t good. It means you don’t see what’s in front of you!

To support the case for a New World, an October Los Angeles Times story suggested that Satan worship lowered property values. How’s that for proof that sin doesn’t pay?

That Starbucks headline above was a real October eye-opener. Apparently, the Chinese don’t like to pay Starbucks prices for coffee.

That’s important to us because we all know that Redemption brings New Life. But does that New Life also bring lower prices—and will we be led to those better prices by China?

Who knew?

Even the Arctic cold plays a role in October’s Redemption headlines. Look at the arctic temperature headline from NBC News. It’s one thing to talk about ‘a long time’; but 44,000 years?

Who thinks in terms of 44,000 years? You do, when you’re talking about Redemption.

You see, Redemption is forever; or, to be scientific about it, for a period of time that’s greater than 44,000 years.

Then there’s sports. Did you ever think that the world of sports had anything to do with religion? Well, in these pre-Redemption days, we find atonement even in sports: look at how Saint Louis Cardinals baseball player Adam Wainwright speaks openly of atonement. That’s wonderful! The Jewish heritage teaches that atonement and repentance can help speed the Redemptive process. Who knew that the World Series was the place for ‘Saints’ to go for atonement?

Well, maybe Mr Wainwright wasn’t so Saintly after all: as October ended, so did the glory of the Saint Louis Cardinals. They lost the World Series to the Boston Red Sox


Look around. Our future beckons. The world reveals hints. It is up to us to understand what we see.

Naturally, it’s possible that all these headlines are meaningless. These news stories may have nothing to do with the Jewish Redemption. Perhaps they simply prove that nothing changes—except our perception of Redemption.

But then we see an odd headline about a New Era for school lunches. That has to be miraculous, doesn’t it?

Have you ever eaten a school lunch?    

That could be a sign. It could mean we now stand on the threshold of a wondrous time when going to school won’t give you indigestion. That’s not just a miracle—that’s Redemption.

Has October brought us the beginning of something New?

You tell me.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Israel headlines

Israel headlines tell a story. They tell you the news. But sometimes, they reveal some underlying truths.  

Return to this blog every Tuesday and Friday after 8 am ET. You’ll see a sampling of headlines from Israel’s press.

 The headlines will be arranged by topic. Those topics will give you a sense of what Israelis have been talking about.

You’ll also see something else: a look at what these stories might mean.

Take a look now at these sample headlines from the news-cycle for October 27 –October 29, 2013. Note that repeated headlines reflect how different newspapers covered the same story.

Prisoners for peace

- Gov't committee approves release of 26 Palestinian prisoners

- Full list of prisoners: Killed 27 Israelis between '84 and '94

- Bill to Stop Prisoner Releases Rejected by Ministers

- Protest at Justice Minister's Home: Stop Terrorist Release

- Terror Victims Angry over Rejection of Halt to Release

-MK Regev: We Release Terrorists, Get Rocket Fire

- PM fails to comment on prisoners' release during government meet

-MK Regev: Prisoner release a sign of weakness

-'The Torah Standpoint is Clear - No Releasing Terrorists'

-Families of Israeli terror victims protest at prison

- Last-Minute Appeals Against Prisoner Release

- Supreme Court to Hear Terror Release Petition

 The unspoken story here is the pain caused by Israel’s releasing Arabs convicted of murdering Jews. Just a few months ago, to help US Secretary of State John Kerry get a new round of peace talks started, Israel was apparently imposed upon to release 104 killers as a way to motivate the Palestinian Authority to come to the ‘table’.  

Israel now agonizes over this second-of-four releases. It is truly painful to watch Israel release unrepentant Jew-killers in a hope for peace—while Mahmoud Abbas honours them as returning heroes.

These prisoners aren’t heroes. They’re murderers.

Arabs attack Jews

- Jews are Sitting Ducks on Hebrew U. Route

- Rock Attack in Gush Etzion

- Terror Attack Thwarted in Hevron

- 2 Mortars Explode in Eshkol Area Council, No Injuries

- Code red siren sounded near Israel's border with Gaza Strip

- Hebron: Palestinian arrested for attempting to stab soldiers

- Egypt closes Rafah Gaza crossing indefinitely

-PA Honors Egyptian Poet: "Our Enemy, Zion, is Satan.."

 The unspoken story here seems to be how Arabs react to the announcement of this impending prison release: they attack Jews. But buried in this particular cluster is an interesting headline: Israel isn’t the only country that finds it necessary to seal off an aggressive Gaza—Egypt also seals it off. The difference is, the international press doesn’t attack Egypt for ‘humanitarian oppression’ every time it acts to seal a Gazan tunnel or crossing.

This sub-story suggests a repugnant moral hypocrisy. If defending Gaza was the true goal of Hamas’ ‘humanitarian friends’, any tunnel closing would be attacked as ‘against international humanitarian law.’


- Germany to Israel: Attend UN Human Rights Council - Or Else

- Ex-UK FM: ‘Unlimited’ Jewish funds control US policy, block Mideast peace

- Australia's Jewish community shocked at anti-Semitic attack

- Wisconsin man accused of hitting 2 Hebrew speakers
-Anti-Israel ads placed on Denver buses during JNF conference

 The unspoken story here is how aggressive anti-Semitism is around the world. These attacks do not diminish. While the attacks aren’t always Muslim-inspired, they are always ugly.

The more we see the Arab celebrate at Israel’s expense, the more we see world-wide anti-Semitism.

Arabs attack Arabs

- Baghdad: 41 Killed in 10 Explosions

- Wave of attacks kills at least 66 people in Iraq

- 18 wedding guests killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

- Saudi authorities arrest 14 women for driving

-Two bombings and an ambush of a police checkpoint in Iraq kill 11

One untold story here is about how hypocrisy characterizes the anti-Israel Movement. Those who attack Israel cry bitterly when Israel does anything the Movement feels is ‘anti-Arab’. But when Arabs slaughter each other—or violate the civil rights of their own citizens—the anti-Israel voice is silent.

These phony humanitarians don’t give a damn about Arabs.

Israel stands tall

- Chinese Magnate Donates $130 Million to Technion

- IKEA hiring 300 for Kiryat Ata branch

- Expert: US could emulate Israel health management

-Israel and Nigeria to sign agreement launching direct flights between two countries

- Ministers approve 3 days of paid leave for fathers after birth

- Ministerial c'ttee approves 8-day paternity leave

- Israel a Model of Success at Go4Europe Conference

The unspoken story here is that Israel has a growing, expanding economy. While academicians, Leftists and Islamic Jihadists are busy demonizing the world’s only Jewish state, this tiny country attracts major investment dollars, for good reason: Israeli scientists and innovators knows how to deliver results. Of course, the same thing might not be said about Israel’s newspapers: look at how they report how many paternity days a father might get.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cowboy logic--and lsrael's leadership

Last updated: October 28, 2013

 I have a friend. He’s a new Oleh. He’s from America. He was born and raised in Wyoming.

If you’ve never heard of Wyoming, that’s okay. Most Israelis haven’t heard of it, either.  

Wyoming is in America’s far West. Jews don’t go there. For example, New York City has more than 1.7 million Jews. Wyoming has 1,150. Only South Dakota (345) and North Dakota (400) have fewer Jews.

Wyoming is practically empty. Look at the numbers. As of 2012, Wyoming has a total population of about 576,000. Those people are spread out over 97,814 square miles.  That creates a population density of less than 6 people per square mile.

By contrast, New York City has more than 8,300,000 people living within app 302 square miles. The population density of New York City is 27,550 people per square mile.

Compared to New York City, Wyoming is empty. In fact, compared to all the other states, Wyoming is empty—it’s population ranks 50th of 50. You could walk for days in Wyoming and not see another human being.

To a man born and raised in Wyoming, that emptiness means something. It means self-reliance. It means that when you go out on the range, you are alone. There are no cabbies or cops driving by every ten minutes. There are no bus stops every few blocks or subway entrances every 2,000 feet. If you are in Wyoming and you get into trouble, emergency response time won’t be 3 or 4 minutes (the average for New York City). Wyoming is empty.

My friend’s grandpa was a cowboy. He spent entire days riding his horse alone on the range. One day, when my friend was a child, he noticed his grandpa carried two guns, one in a holster on his hip, the other tucked into a sleeve attached to his horse’s saddle. He said, ‘Grandpa, why do you carry two guns?’

Grandpa replied, ‘The rifle in my saddle is a Winchester. It’s for four-legged animals. The pistol is a Colt .45. That’s for two-legged animals.’

Grandpa understood how to survive. He understood cowboy logic.
Cowboy logic is simple. You acknowledge the reality in front you. You don’t ignore it. You don’t play, ‘let’s make believe.’ You don’t play, ‘if only’. You make decisions based on what’s real, not desired.
Reality is not a game. Reality on the range does not reward stupid decisions.   
Cowboy logic means that if you have a dispute with someone, and that person is reasonable, you talk. But if that person is not reasonable—if, for example, he gets in your face and shouts he will kill you—then you defend yourself: that’s what guns are for.
In a way, cowboy logic is like the Jewish religion. It places a high value on correctly assessing reality.

In Israel today, Jewish leadership does not place high value on reality. For example, some suggest that we are in Israel today only because of European guilt over the Holocaust. That’s untrue.
Others say we are here only because the United Nations voted to create us. But that’s only superficially true. We are here today because of the Torah.
That’s our reality. For almost 2,000 years, our Torah and Torah-inspired prayers have reminded us that we are Destined to return to Israel.   

Without our Torah and without those prayers, we wouldn’t have been interested in lobbying for the Balfour agreement. We wouldn’t have worked for a reconstituted national Jewish homeland in Palestine.
For almost 2,000 years, we prayed for this return. Now, it’s our reality.
Current Jewish leadership, however, will not accept our heritage as our reality. They prefer Man-made politics; that’s why they release convicted terrorists as a ‘peace gesture.’  
How realistic is that? How will putting unrepentant killers back on the street advance peace?  
Our leaders won’t say. Instead, they talk of democracy. They reject their G-d. They prefer ‘the majority rules’.
 In the Middle East, the Arab is the majority. Therefore, if the Arab doesn’t want us, we don’t belong here.
That’s how our leaders appear to think.
But our reality is not written by the Arab--or by anyone else. We did not survive nearly 2,000 years of exile because we surrendered to our enemies—or rejected our Torah. We survived because we believed in the Torah and its promise of return. That promise is now reality.

Cowboy logic says, you don’t survive if you ignore reality. Our leaders ignore reality.
Cowboy logic says, you survive by defending what’s yours.  Our leaders do not defend what is ours.  
Cowboy logic says, two-legged animals can be dangerous. Our leaders say, the only dangerous two-legged animals are Jews in Judea-Samaria.  
Our leaders don’t like cowboys. Cowboys are too realistic. Cowboys defend themselves.  
Our leaders should visit Wyoming. They might learn something about surviving reality.  



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When you don’t 'see', you are left behind

Our Sages make an interesting observation about an incident in this past week’s Torah reading, Va-Yeah-rah. You might want to remember the observation.

At the beginning of the story of Ah-kei-dat Yitzchak (the Binding of Isaac, B’reisheet  22:1-19), Abraham travels with three companions to a place we call today the Temple Mount. Those companions, our Sages teach, were Abraham’s sons Isaac and Yishmael, plus Abraham’s learned slave, Eliezer (for a description of Eliezer, see Tractate Yoma, 28b). As the group of four approaches the Mount, called Har HaMoriah, “Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place from afar” (ibid, 22:4). As presented in the ArtScroll Stone Edition, The Chumash, (see commentary on 22:4) the midrashic Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (80-118CE) relates that, as Abraham lifted his eyes to the Mount, he saw a cloud hovering there. That cloud was the Presence of G-d.

Abraham asked Isaac, ‘do you see what I see?’  Isaac responded, ‘yes.’ Abraham then asked the same question to Yishmael and Eliezer. Both said, ‘no.’

Therefore, the commentary relates, Abraham told Yishmael and Eliezer, ‘stay here’ (ibid 22:5). He left them behind  specifically because they did not ‘see’ what they were looking at. Both Yishmael and the learned Eliezer didn’t understand the significance of what they saw.

Could the same happen today to Jews in exile? Well, in a single twelve-day news cycle (October 10-21, 2013), some stories and opinion-pieces have appeared that paint a stark picture for Jews in exile. Will those Jews understand what they read?

On October 10, Hen Mazzig wrote in The Times of Israel of anti-Israel bigotry and hostility on American college campuses. At one BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) event in Portland, a professor from a Seattle university told the assembled crowd that the Jews of Israel have no national rights and should be forced out of the country. When Mazzig (who was travelling to talk about Israel) asked, “Where do you want them to go?” she replied, “I don’t care. I don’t care if they don’t have any place to go.” On another occasion, a professor asked Mazzig if he knew how many Palestinians have been raped by IDF (Israel Defence Force) soldiers (Mazzig had served in the IDF). He answered that, so far as he knew, none. She then triumphantly responded that he was right, because, she said, ‘You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them you won’t touch them!’

On October 14, Caroline Glick wrote in the Jerusalem Post about the Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) and its in-house Theater J. It seems that, for its Spring 2014 season, Theatre J will present a play entitled, ‘The Admission.’ This play presents a story about a so-called massacre of Arabs by Jews (in the 1947-8 War of Independence) that never occurred. Israeli courts have ruled that the original story—it was part of a Masters Thesis at Haifa University—was a fabrication. Nevertheless, the play portrays Jews as murderers and aggressors in the 1947-8 War. According to Glick, the play’s design is to defame Israel and romanticize its enemies. She argues that this is a blood libel that depicts Israeli soldiers – and the society that supports them – as mass murderers. It represents, she contends, the beginning of an conversation regarding whether or not Israel is a criminal state born in war crimes—and it is being promoted by the Jewish community.

On October 18, The Times of Israel reported that 40 per cent of French Jews, 49 per cent of Swedish Jews and 36 per cent of Belgian Jews are afraid to wear Jewish symbols for fear of attack. In addition, 91 per cent of Hungarian Jews, 88 per cent of French Jews, 87 per cent of Belgian Jews and 80 per cent of Swedish Jews say that anti-Semitism has increased over the last five years.

On October 21, Richard L Cravatts wrote on Arutz Sheva that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the largest and most significant organization of academic faculty members in the United States, with over 47,000 members, has traditionally not supported boycotts. But now, he reports, the organization has dedicated an entire issue of their online Journal of Academic Freedom to examine the feasibility of an academic boycott of Israel.

These four stories, appearing in a single ten-day period, represent a warning call to Jews in exile. As European Jews have clearly discovered, the anti-Israel Movement is not just a philosophic enterprise.  They see now that the more Israel is demonized, the stronger anti-Semitism becomes.

The Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac looking up at the Temple Mount is today’s story. It is the story of, ‘do you see’?

It’s a reminder. It reminds us that, if we don’t understand what we see, we will be ‘left behind’—and whatever ‘left behind’ means, it’s not good.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How the World Bank used 'counterfactual' fantasy to defame Israel

Last updated: October 23, 2013

 You may have heard about the World Bank’s Report, “West Bank Gaza Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy,” number AUS2922, October 2, 2013). It accuses Israel of harming the Palestinian (PA) economy. It provoked world headlines to shout, ‘World Bank slams Israel.’

This Report makes a clear case: Israeli restrictions on travel, access and water in a place called Area C of the West Bank—Judea-Samaria—strangles PA efforts to survive. Those restrictions must be lifted.

There is no realistic basis for these assertions. The World Bank even acknowledges this—in the Report’s ‘Annex I: Methodological Notes’.

 This ‘Annex’ reveals that the study—and its conclusions--are based on assumptions, not facts. For example, the study assumes that land in Area C could be cultivated (‘cultivable’) (p 36). It assumes that more than half of the cultivable land in Area C is irrigable (p 37). It assumes that all irrigable land will generate income. It assumes that the total annual market value of agriculture produced from this land will be USD 1.209 billion dollars.

It assumes that whatever income Israeli and Jordanian businesses generate after decades of trial and error in Area C, PA Arabs would also generate. It assumes PA businessmen and farmers are competent enough to keep their enterprises alive. It assumes that a rare pricing calculation from Egypt can be applied to Area C (page 40).  It assumes that PA Arabs doing telecommunication maintenance-and-repair (for new cellular networks) in Area C would do that work cheaper and faster than Israeli companies. It assumes that potential tourist demand (for a new tourism industry) in a PA Area C corresponds to current tourist activity on the Israeli side.

It therefore assumes that, without those so-called Israeli restrictions, all new businesses in Area C would generate for the PA a total of USD 3.4 billion dollars a year. But the study also assumes that corruption and theft are irrelevant in the PA; essentially, it ignores those issues. That’s a factual mistake because a 2013 European study suggests that billions of recent donor aid to the PA has simply disappeared—and another 2013 report by the British shows 66 per cent of PA residents calling corruption in the PA a key concern.

Financial loss due to PA corruption is important here because, despite the Report’s unconditional optimism, the ‘Annex’ reveals that some of the Report’s estimates could be reduced by almost half if assumptions aren’t borne out. Corruption could enhance this shortfall. Curiously, these very real—and troubling—facts (corruption and shortfall) failed to appear in the Press Release that accompanied the Report.

Newspapers repeated the World Bank’s anti-Israel assertions as unconditional fact. But again, the World Bank wasn’t using fact in this Report. It was using ‘imagination’.

Let’s be clear: facts—many of which were about Israeli (not Arab) businesses--were used to create assumptions. Then, those assumptions were used to ‘imagine’ a new future for the PA.

In order to do this study, the World Bank states that it had too few facts to build with. So it created a ‘counterfactual world’ (p 36).

Do you understand the term, ‘counterfactual world’? The literal meaning of the term is, ‘going against fact’. It means creating a world that avoids fact. It is a world of pure speculation.

It is, in other words, a world of fantasy. ‘Counterfactual’ means, put facts aside. Just use your imagination to think, ‘if only…’

In this Report, the counterfactual world imagined for the PA is ideal. To derive its unconditional conclusion that the imagined USD 3.4 billion (net of corrections and adjustments) is real, nothing goes wrong. Everything succeeds. Everyone is competent. Everyone is honest. Everything works as imagined.

The counterfactual scenario imagined here reminds one of the fictional Lake Woebegone, ‘where all the women are beautiful and all the children above-average’.  It is a mental exercise. It is dream, not reality.

But in its Press Release, the World Bank did not reveal that this report is only an ‘imagining’ exercise. It presented the report and its conclusion as ‘fact’: without Israeli restrictions, Area C would—without qualification or condition--generate annually USD 3.4 billion for the PA.

Everyone who read this statement came to the same conclusion. Israeli oppression harms the PA.

The World Bank reported its imagined conclusions as truth. It did not even bother to disclose the soft underbelly of counterfactual analysis (which applies to the Arab-Israel conflict): the more complex, unpredictable or conflicted a situation, the more unreliable the results could be.

Moreover, the Annex (the ‘small print’ in the back) reveals that the World Bank’s harsh judgment of Israel comes with a 27-47 per cent margin of error (p 46) for the two industries (agriculture and mining) that represent half of that projected USD3.4 billion. That means that the Report’s annual income estimate for these center-piece sectors could be 27-47 per cent lower than stated.

A businessman knows that a persistent fifteen per cent shortfall can put him out of business. A 27-47 per cent annual shortfall isn’t just a statistical anomaly to be referenced in passing and then ignored. A potential annual shortfall that large is the kind of fact that could convince astute Arabs and investors to ignore Area C altogether. It is a margin of error so great that it suggests the World Bank’s fantasy here is as realistic as a plan to build castles in the air.

In the fantasy world of counterfactual imagining, anything is possible--because facts aren’t necessary. For this Report, the World Bank fantasizes that the PA is competent and Israel is oppressive.  

What must the G-d of Israel think of these people?








Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The World Bank blames Israel?

The World Bank’s latest Report on the Palestinian Authority (PA) is entitled, ‘West Bank and Gaza Area C and the Future of the Palestinian economy’, (report AUS2922, October 2, 2013). With this Report, the World Bank ignores the central issues that threaten to torpedo the PA’s economic viability. Instead, it chooses to support the war against Israel.

David Singer writes that this Report reveals how PLO decision-making has been disastrous for the PA (“Op-ed: World Bank exposes PLO’s disastrous miscalculations,” Arutz Sheva, October 15, 2013). But while Mr Singer is absolutely correct in his analysis, we must not forget that the focus—and the conclusion—of this Report is to blame Israel for that disaster.

The Report discusses economic problems and opportunities for a place called Area C of the West Bank, which makes up 61 per cent of West Bank geography—the area we call Judea-Samaria.  Area C is known for three reasons: (1) It fell into Israel’s hands in the defensive 1967 six-day war—after Jordan attacked Israel; (2) in response to Arab attacks against Jews, Israel’s military maintains restrictions on Arabs in Area C; and (3) Arabs claim Area C belongs to them.

The Report blames Israel for the PA’s economic woes. It asserts that Area C is the key to saving PA’s economy. As if to validate this assertion, the Report presents an assumption: if Israeli restrictions there were lifted, economic activity in Area C would add 35 per cent to PA GDP. A World Bank press release suggests that lifting Israeli restrictions in Area C determines if the PA can survive.  

The World Bank sees agriculture in Area C taking stage-center for PA economic prosperity. But when highlighting this center-piece, the Report veers from objectivity to propaganda. It ignores Arab behaviour. It blames Israel for the Area C’s farm-productivity and water problems.

In the Middle East, water is a life-or-death issue. Israel has developed solutions to its water problems. The PA has not. In fact, in areas controlled by the PA, reports circulate that up to half of all water used in the PA is classified as UFW—unaccounted-for water. That means that up to half the water ‘disappears’.

Israel is not responsible for this ‘disappearance’ because the problem is associated with Arabs, primarily inside PA-controlled land. Nevertheless, the World Bank ignores UFW. It blames Israel for Area C water shortage.

That’s absurd. In the Arab world, stealing water is epidemic. Thomas Friedman has exposed this. While he writes of Syria and Yemen (and not Area C), he demonstrates that the reason for serious Middle East water problems is not Israel, but incompetent and corrupt officials who, while tasked with preventing illegal wells from being dug, are themselves digging wells in their own back yards. 

Illegal wells plague the PA (and Gaza). It’s called Palestinian water piracy. Bedouins also steal water. This affects water availability for commerce, agriculture and residents.  The World Bank Report does not highlight the role water piracy plays in Arab economic and agriculture problems in Area C. It simply blames Israel.

The World Bank wants us to believe that the only thing that keeps the PA from economic success is Israeli restriction. This is patently absurd. The PA has never proven itself capable of developing a successful economy.
What the PA is capable of, however, is corruption. A recent European Union report suggests that much of 1.95 billion Euros transferred to the PA between 2008 and 2013 has been ‘misappropriated’. Monies desperately needed to keep the PA’s sinking economy afloat have either disappeared or been misused.  
Apparently, the Bank does not believe that massive Arab corruption (and the incompetence that corruption breeds) causes problems for the PA’s economy.  It prefers to blame Israel.
To bolster its case that Arab agriculture in Area C can be successful, the Report highlights Israeli agriculture successes. But it is fantasy—not economics--to assume that if Jews farm successfully on a large scale, so can Arabs.
There is already Arab agriculture in Area C. But between 1995-2011, Arab farm productivity in Area C plummeted. The fundamental problem causing that drop is not Israel. It’s Arab corruption, stolen water and a history of not addressing difficult problems with resources already available. 
If the World Bank wants to foster Arab prosperity, it cannot ignore Arab actions that hurt the PA’s economic potential. It cannot make unrealistic assumptions about Authority competence. It certainly cannot ignore cultural and communal problems that hold back Arab self-development: corruption, a pathological hatred of Jews that fosters violence instead of cooperation and a beggar mentality that promotes a sense of entitlement instead of ‘let’s work’.
For example, just weeks before the Report, Arabs forced an Israeli company to cancel a proposed economic opportunity—and jobs--for Arabs in Ramallah. Forget a 22 per cent PA unemployment rate: there will be no ‘normalization‘ with Israel!
This Report ignores Arab responsibility for his own problems. Instead, it claims states that, ”The key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of” Israeli restrictions in Area C [emphasis mine].
In the face of Arab corruption, Jew-hate, incompetence and piracy, the World Bank blames Israel for PA troubles?























Sunday, October 13, 2013

Self-delusion in America’s Jewish community?

Jews in America are under pressure. The American President wants Israel to do what he wants. Israel won’t do what he wants. So he turns to America’s Jews. He tells American Jewish leaders they must bend Israel to his goals (as reported in a private email from ZOA leaders to members and special friends, March 7, 2011).  

American Jewish influence isn’t what it used to be. No President has ever spoken to American Jewish leaders in this manner. No US president has appeared so arrogant towards one of America’s most loyal allies (see Caroline Glick, “Column One: Fool me twice”, The Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2012).  

American Jews feel this heat because, like it or not, political influence is linked to numbers. In America, population numbers count—and Jewish population numbers in America do not look promising. For the last twenty years, American Jewish numbers have not grown.

In 1990, Jewish population studies identified app 5.4 million Jews in America. By 2010, that number had grown to perhaps 5.6 million. That’s not growth. That’s stagnation.

In America, populations that grow gain political influence; populations that stagnate can lose influence.  It’s the American way: bigger is better.

Look at Muslim population numbers. In 1990, according to a January 2011 Pew Research Report, there were app 300,000 Muslims in America. By 2010, that number grew more than seven-fold to app. 2.3 million. That’s not stagnation.

That same Pew Research Report estimated that there will be more than 6.2 million Muslims in America by 2030. For Jews, however, the arc of population growth tilts down, not up. With a high rate of Jewish out-marriage (marrying a non-Jew without conversion) and with an increasing number of Jews choosing ‘No religion’, where do you think Jewish population numbers will be in 2030?

The October 2013 Pew Research Report suggests an answer. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they are Jewish when asked about their religion has declined by about half since the late 1950s. In addition, seventy-one per cent of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry--and two-thirds of Jewish parents who say they have ‘no religion’ raise their children as ‘Not Jewish’.

These Jewish-Muslim numbers suggest that a demographic time-bomb ticks for Jews in America. While many claim that current Muslim political influence reflects favouritism by a pro-Muslim President, such an analysis is simplistic. Muslim influence is also connected to population numbers—and money.

Minorities gain influence because of numbers and money. It’s how minorities protect themselves. Muslims are no different. Their political influence goes deeper than a President’s bias. Their money and population numbers now increase fast enough to attract important invitations once reserved exclusively for Jews.

The Muslim star ascends in America. Their numbers increase. Their money spreads.

For Jew in America, however, a demographic time-bomb ticks away. Within twenty years, there will be more Muslims in America than Jews. At the current rate, Muslims could outvote Jews by 2030.

Jewish liberals want that time-bomb to go away. They have found the way to do that.  

In September 2013, a Brandeis University population study appeared.  This new report argues that previous Jewish population studies have grossly underestimated American Jewish numbers. Where previous estimates identify an American Jewish population of 5.4 -5.6 million, the real number, the Brandeis study argues, is 6.8 million.

According to Brandeis University, Jewish population numbers are strong, not weak. America’s Jewish population will keep ahead of Muslims for the foreseeable future. The inference is, don’t worry; American Jewish power will remain strong.

But is that 6.8 million number correct? The Brandeis study’s conclusions are not based on a Halachic definition of ‘Jew’. They are not based on synagogue affiliation or local Jewish Federation membership. They are based on a statistical trick called, ‘self-identity’. 

For liberal Jews desperately seeking to retain strength-of-numbers, religious or ethnic affiliation is irrelevant. All one need do is ‘self-select’, much as one self-selects to root for the New York Yankees or the Atlanta Braves. Nothing more is needed.

Liberal Jews build their Jewish census around non-halachic converts and other non-affiliated Jews who raise their children as ‘Not Jewish’. This is certainly good for Liberals. But it is disastrous for Israel.

Jewish Israel exists because the Jewish religion says Israel is Jewish. Israel survives because of the link between G-d and the Land. Look at the Tanach. Look at Orthodox liturgy. If American Jewry builds its numbers with non-believing and non-Jewish Jews, it disconnects from the religious significance of  Israel. It betrays Jewish Israel with an ideology of ‘Not Jewish.’

With Jews like these, Israel won’t need enemies. Jews themselves will turn against Israel.

How do two population studies of America’s Jews (in September and October 2013) come to such divergent conclusions? Does self-delusion play a role here?

These are important questions. Jews in America need answers.

They better get those answers. Happy endings never come from self-delusion.